Craft beer misinformation on a media destination…

Posted in Enhance Your Taste Buds Through Learning, Random drunken griping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/09/2014 by beerbygarth

Well, this day was bound to happen.  My favorite pastime while in my car is listening to talk radio, specifically Opie and Anthony (I do love Ron & Fez, too).  I’ve been a loyal listener to the show for at least 9 years, and many days of driving to and from people’s homes during the work day that show has been what’s gotten me through.  I knew, in my heart of hearts, that eventually craft beer would come within the crosshairs of their attention.  There have been mentions from time to time, but the topic rarely warrants more than passing conversation.  Erock dropping some fruity beers at Opie’s beach house, local NYC brewpubs providing food during the show, etc.  Today, somehow the show transitioned from Nancy Grace and the legalization of weed to craft beer, and I cringed as I listened to every comedic blow dealt.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this show.  I will continue to love this show.  If this particular post does nothing more than open a few more sets of ears to the show then I would be ecstatic.  That being said, I wanted to jump into the ring to defend craft beer.  Ultimately, nobody even remotely associated with the show is likely to ever set eyes upon this blog, and that’s fine.  Even if they did, at this point Opie would be doing a Sudoku puzzle, Jimmy and Anthony would be gawking at some young intern walking down the hallway, and Sam would be trying to figure out which host would be easiest to knock off and replace.  Without further ado, here is the clip from the broadcast this morning.  I’ll punch out timed bullet points for all the egregious errors and stereotypes thrown about.  Start around 16:50, and if you’re at work wear some headphones because the language gets a little fucking salty at times.

For anyone not familiar with the show, there are a ton of ongoing bits and inside jokes that are really frigging funny throughout any given episode, and it really is worth checking out.  A week or so into it and you can pretty much be up to speed on most running threads.

17:06 Jim Norton: “Blue Moon’s a beer?”
As happy as I am that there are people out there that have no knowledge of this shit product existing, that simple statement takes any validity away from Jim in a beer conversation.  This fact is fine given Jim’s ongoing sobriety, which is a monumental feat, and something anyone should be proud of.  Pride and accomplishment aside, your opinions on beer now mean as much as the shit you pay trannies to leave on your chest.

17:25 Opie talks about Club Soda Kenny stopping drinking because “kid’s don’t understand hangovers.”
This is a very true statement, but what’s great is the fact that adults do have the ability to understand restraint and responsibility.  The average craft beer drinker consumes 2-4 beers in a sitting at max.  Your shit swillers may be a different story, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I try to defend any of those sheep.

There is a topic here of hangovers and binge drinking for a few minutes which I think we can all relate to in some form or another.  Almost every fan of craft beer got their starts with the big 3, or one of their off-shoot brands, and likely have many similar stories.  The misguided keeping of a streak by The Opster is pretty goddamned funny.  They also go off the highway a bit with some college nostalgia here.  The “off the highway” phenomenon is pretty common on O&A, and leads to some great radio.  Don’t worry, it comes back to beer very shortly.

22:25 A listener calls in to rant about the shit that is Blue Moon.  Listener’s who call in are three types of people: 1)Brave, because if they have listened to the show more than once they should know that no matter how well spoken and eloquent their point they are probably going to be shit all over for some minute detail; 2) oblivious and crazy, thinking that the hosts are constantly talking directly to them through their receivers; or 3) assholes.

Anthony says “Any beer you mention that you like, someone will say what a shitty piss it is, and then recommend a beer they like.  Fuck you!”
He’s not wrong, and I wouldn’t argue that statement a bit.  One of the biggest detriments to the craft beer community is verbal and behavioral cannibalism.  Go on any beer community website and it won’t take more than two clicks and a couple scroll scroll scrolls to find some fucking troll ripping someone apart because of the beer they happen to like.

23:00 Caller begins singing the praises of Sixpoint brewery.
As he should, because Sixpoint continues to make fantastic beers!  Also, Sixpoint is one of the many breweries and beer related organizations that make it a point to give back to communities and charities through events and fundraisers, such as the annual Beer for Beasts event.

23:06 “…oldest frat boy in the world Opie…”
Great line, sir.  Seriously…great line.

23:55 This is where the caller loses some steam.  Resin by Sixpoint is a fantastic beer.  It’s one of my favorite DIPAs.  That being said, when you are talking to people who mainly consume watered down raccoon jizz, you need to offer more “bridge” friendly options, not a beast of flavor weighing in at 9.2% ABV.  Sixpoint makes some great tasting, light, sessionable beers like Apollo, Incredibly Mild Ale, Little Buzz, and so on.  You can’t throw these stalwart motherfuckers into the deep end right off the bat; you have to lure them into the waters slowly and gently.  These children of the 80s are fragile.

27:55 Anthony: “This guy’s a bore at a party, criticizing everyone’s beer…”
Again, I can’t argue.  As bad as the infighting in the craft beer community is on message boards and forums, there are way too many that love to jump down someone’s throat at social gatherings, completely unsolicited or initiated.

29:00 Jim makes a joke about “steering wheel” flavored beer in regards to wrecking a car when drunk.
Funny, but eerily similar to the stereotyping and gross generalization one cow-whore Nancy Grace was getting ripped apart for making a mere 20 minutes prior on this same broadcast.  I get it’s a comedy show and I get you need to make jokes and keep it moving, but right now I’m just being a nit-picking bitch, and that was definitely a noticeable parallel, so there. Pbbbtt!  Just because you drink beer doesn’t automatically mean you drive drunk.  I would love to see the stats on DUI and motor vehicle accidents where alcohol was involved and get a breakdown of how many were related to craft beer.  I’d be willing to bet it’s minimal.

29:30 Anthony: “You’re a wannabe kind of rich guy, but you’re a snob, hipster snob…”
All over the map here, but again, a gross generalization.  Most craft beer drinkers are not trying to look the part of well to do; instead, most craft beer drinkers are trying to conserve money, while at the same time getting more quality for the dollars they are spending.  Buying local has become a huge movement, and you truly cannot get more local than the beers being brewed in your city, or even your state, by companies that are owned by locals and make jobs for locals.  The snob comment is a tough defense, as I’ve previously admitted.  They are out there, but they aren’t all of us.  And hipster, absolutely not.  Hipsters drink PBR…just ask Pepper Hicks, that alcoholic centaur fuck.

30:20 listener “DoggyDaddy” from Rome, NY joins the conversation, and brings an underwhelming mass of garbage and mess with him.
Of course, as most follow-up callers are wont to do, he starts by saying the initial caller is full of shit.  Great gag.  Then, he states Sixpoint is made in Utica, NY and not Brooklyn.  Sorry dipshit, Sixpoint is in Brooklyn.  Saranac is made in Utica by the Matt Brewing Company.  Saranac was the beer you were looking for, you should-have-been-abortion.  If you are going to come in with a full head of steam talking shit, at least do a little fact-checking first.

Now you have two listeners talking to each other without listening, which leads to answering questions that aren’t being asked and both of them sounding like drunk-ass dipshits. #nothelping

32:40 Anthony: “…every fucking time I take a picture during the summer…someone catches the Bud Light…”
Again, the snobs and trolls coming out of the woodwork to attack the uninitiated or uncaring is not helping anybody.  Some people just don’t care, and that’s always going to be there.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.  It is ironic that these guys don’t care, though.  These guys, who worked their way through terrestrial radio to get to satellite radio, a service that people have to pay for rather than free FM.  I mean, by their logic of drinking what’s cheap, light, and mass consumable, shouldn’t we all, then, be listening to what’s free, light, and mass consumable?  Saving that SiriusXM subscription money for other worthwhile ventures.  Ultimately, it doesn’t affect them…they signed their contracts, so no matter who tunes in and who doesn’t they are getting paid, but it does make for an interesting analogy.

37:37 They bring in Erock, one of the producers, who admits to being a fan of craft beer.
Hooray, a man on the inside!  This is the best bet for turning anyone on the show.  Sam is a waste, because that overgrown child is emulating CM Punk in the straight-edge category, all while blasting his eardrums with pop-music horse shit and snacking on chicken fingers and other toddler foods.  I don’t hear Travis weighing in on any of this, but the man has good taste in music and sports, so there’s always a chance there, too.

38:08 Anthony laments about wanting to drink all day, which obviously limits him to the Bud Light realm, right?
Not true, sir!  The craft beer movement is ever-changing, and one of the more popular styles, or genres if you will, coming out now is Session beers.  Session beers are generally 4-5% ABV (depending on who you ask) or below, so you can drink a shit ton of them and still pass the day pool side, beside your velociraptor statue and pre-teen co-eds.

I can’t say enough how much I love this show.  Ask my wife, because I am constantly talking about it.  If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t have gone to this much trouble to comb the hell out of a single episode.  When you really boil it down, Jimmy is a non-factor because he is dry and I can only hope he remains that way.  His comic genius needs to stay sharp and firing on all cylinders.  Anthony just doesn’t give a shit, whether it be due to laziness, cheapness, or that ingrained whiskey-tango gene that drives him towards quantity over quality.  Get on the topic of guns and that quantity over quality mantra would change quickly for our follicle-transplanted friend, but in all fairness a craft beer is not going to stop most home invasions, so that argument is fairly weak.  Although, Anthony does like Guinness, which is a gateway beer for many a people, so all hope may not be lost.  Opie is the best chance in this bunch.  He already has been dabbling in the shallow end of craft beer, and with a little push from Erock and a lot of hooks in the water, we might be able to lure that motherhucker over to our side.

The whole point of this spiel was to show how much nonsense was being spread about craft beer, despite the craft beer community’s best efforts to mass-educate in any way, shape, or form.  As I said before, I highly doubt anyone from this show or network will ever even catch the slightest wind of this blog.  If they do, I apologize to everyone I actually know who reads this blog, because I’m sure the pests of the O&A show will descend upon this blog, my facebook account, and every other online aspect of me out there, with a barrage of pictures of big dicks, Denny, and Scott & Todd references.  If it does get ignored, as I expect, just take this as a token that no mountain is too big to attempt to tackle.  As always, drink educated my friends!

#Beer clubs…a right and wrong way

Posted in Random drunken griping with tags , , , , , , on 01/06/2014 by beerbygarth

Time to dust off the ol’ keyboard and jump back into these things.  To my devoted readers (basically, my wife) I apologize for being dormant for so long.  If you didn’t notice the absence, then feel free to disregard said apology…I give them out so infrequently that they do become quite valuable.

I was recently out at a “Taphouse” that shall remain nameless, because I am not in the business of forcing my judgment on others, but something at this establishment really annoyed me.  Actually, there were a lot of things that really annoyed me (“The empty kegs aren’t changed out frequently at night because our bartenders are mostly female and they don’t want to lug them around out back.”  Honestly, this was an explanation I got), but only one is the focus here.  The ever popular “Beer Club.”

Now, don’t get your favorite, maladjusted quaffer wrong.  I am a huge fan of beer clubs.  I mean, I have a hard time staying away most times.  The wife and I completed the “Pub Club” requirements at The Pike Brewing Company in Seattle, WA in what we were told was a record 2 months, earning ourselves some really great swag, which included 2 English style growlers with our choice of etchings to personalize, a free first fill on said growlers with the beer of our choice, 2 t-shirts, and a discount card to the brewpub, good for a year.  I also completed the “Around the Block” club at the Grill Next Door in Lowell, MA.  Here, you earn a burn-etched wooden plaque, a t-shirt, a mug, and your name on a plaque at the bar.  Both of these were a lot of fun to complete.  You got to know a lot of great people at each establishment, all of whom were truly excited about beer and the improvement in the general public’s knowledge of GOOD beer.  They both had something else in common, as well…sign-up for both was FREE.

courtesy of goodbeertrips.com

So, at said “Taphouse,” I see a sign for their beer club, and being the inquisitive little future cirrhosis patient that I am, I inquire.  I was informed that you have your name placed on a plaque when you drink all 80 unique taps (she thinks, because they don’t have the plaque yet, nor do they have any members of this club I suspect), a t-shirt and a mug, and maybe a discount?  I don’t know why she asked me the last part, I was unaware of any details at this point.  She was certain that you get the t-shirt and mug immediately when you sign up, though.  Other than a general lack of knowledge regarding a promotion being completed at her place of employment, I thought her description sounded about right.  Then, she informed me, it was easy to sign up, they just needed my name, address, phone number, and $10.  Go fuck yourselves.  Seriously, go right ahead.

courtesy of jpgreene.com

I know, I know, it seems WAY over reactive, but before you defend this clueless waif or her place of employment, let me break this down for you.  The “Taphouse” serves craft beer, but not exclusively because it is in such a beer-shithole that it has to keep the big boys on tap in order to pay the bills.  Regardless, of the 80 craft taps required to complete said club, the cheapest ones are $5 a pint.  Some range up to as high as $9-10 a serving, with higher ABV beers being served in 10-12 ounce chalices, tulips, etc. (They don’t even determine that properly, either…I could rip the shit out of this place on a dozen different things without breaking a sweat, really).  So, for argument’s sake, let’s make the math easy and say all 80 beers are $5 a piece, putting completion of the challenge at a nice and easy $400 (not including taxes and tips).  Are you telling me that the $400+ you make off of the completion of a single member of this club isn’t enough to swing a t-shirt and a mug, which maybe set you back a couple of bucks when ordered in bulk?  And I understand fully that nobody ever orders food when tipping back some heavy brews, so there is bound to be no food income from any of these members, either, right?  Yeah, charge that $10 up front…keep that revenue cranking!  Dick.

At this point, you may no longer think I was over reacting with the initial “fuck yourselves,” but now might be saying “Well, it makes sense to charge $10 up front since you are getting the mug and t-shirt right away.  I mean, what’s to keep someone from signing up to get this wonderful swag and then never complete the list?”  A valid point, I would say.  A very valid point, and, bear with me now, because the solution to this is a little tough to follow: give the t-shirt and mug at the halfway point.  HOLY SHIT!  I know, I know, mind-blowing.  No, I never got a degree in business OR marketing…came up with that one el solo.  From experience, all the Pike swag came at the end, and the Grill Next Door worked on a 3 tier system, where the first “trip around the block” was 36 beers, and after the first round you get a t-shirt; second trip is the mug; third trip is the plaque and a presentation evening at the bar.  See, very easy ways to lure the wonderful beer drinking crowd into your establishment and your club, all while promoting your business with the rewards of “free” swag and nurturing your customers to want to complete this epic quest.

Beer clubs are great, and they do help develop camaraderie amongst your customers, as well as spread the good word that is beer.  However, asking for upfront money on an endeavor that is going to ultimately cost your customers upwards of $400 is just a dick move.  This particular place definitely has bigger issues to iron out, but this one just happened to rub me the wrong way during that particular visit.  It’s an easy fix; and, hopefully I was able to paint a picture of how much fun it was to participate in the other two clubs.  I don’t ever want to force ideas on to people, but if you are looking into a beer club at your local watering hole and there is an upfront fee, don’t feel obligated.  Just because you have a date to the prom doesn’t mean you’re getting laid.  Drink educated my friends!

Push it over!!

Posted in Reasons to Avoid AB and M-C (Anheuser Busch and Miller-Coors)... with tags , , on 08/11/2013 by beerbygarth

In all honesty, I’m glad the driver is alright.  Past that fact, push that shit hauler over the edge.  It’s Darwinism…that beer was meant to perish.  Also, oddly enough, the waterways around the Boston-metro are dirty as hell, so it wouldn’t really do any noticeable damage!

The full story can be found below:

http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/boston/10011376866834/truck-crashes-dangles-off-i-93-in-boston/

#Beer world, prepare to be Chuck Norris’d…

Posted in Beer Reviews with tags , , , , , , on 07/18/2013 by beerbygarth

Yeah, this is happening…

I’m not going to bombard you with a litany of Chuck Norris jokes, no matter how hilarious.  Just assume automatically that they are all implied, in their entirety, and this allows you the freedom to insert your own favorites here and there.  Look, now we’re interactive.  How progressive!

I love spicy anything…to the point of self-harm.  When we lived in Portland (West Coast) we made a trip to a restaurant named Salvador Molly’s for the sole purpose of eating their Habanero Fritters because we saw them on Man Vs Food.  Two bites and my goddamn eyebrows were sweating, but they were delicious!  Point being, any kind of spice intrigues me greatly.  That being said, as I have gotten older, I have also come to appreciate the ability to balance said heat, rather than having ball melting inferno-ness completely on its own.  I see spicy beer, I am very interested.

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer pours a beautiful, rich, dark brown to black coloring that is just about opaque. A tall, frothy, dense, creamy, chocolate-brown colored head sits atop at about an inch and a half, and slowly settles into a firm, filmy surface coating that clings to everything it touches. Aromas of rich, creamy chocolate in the backbone, with a subtle, overlaying highlight of smoky and slightly spicy chipotle peppers. Smells pretty damn good, and well-balanced, too.  Something many spiced beers fall short of accomplishing, especially when heat-centric spices are involved.  Flavors of coffee and cream first, with a charred and spicy pepper profile following immediately. The pepper characteristics build rapidly as you drink, with a slowly cumulative heat. Oaky and earthy undertones throughout, which help give some layering to the brew. Spiced and peppery aftertaste, with a bittersweet chocolate backbone to it. Mid-bodied and fairly dry throughout, with a spicy, semisweet, thin finish that has a spicy linger to it. More so the more you drink.  This brew is definitely geared towards those heat inclined in regards to their palates, but is not so overbearing that it can’t be enjoyed by just about anyone.  Also, it was made for pairing with the spicy Mexican fare, in particular dishes made with the beauty that is the chipotle pepper.

So, maybe next Cinco de Mayo you quit being the typical gringo douche that loads up on Corona and picks up something with a little more substance and bite.  I mean, technically, it’s not from Mexico, but let’s not get too picky, eh?  If spice isn’t your thing, maybe don’t try this one, but hopefully this helps some folks realize that other interests and tastes (literally) can be found in the world of beer.  Fruit, hot peppers, wood, wine, etc…all characteristics that can be found in the craft beer world.  So get out there and fly your taste flag proudly…and as always, drink educated my friends!

My female constituents, stand together and defend your better taste in #beer!

Posted in Enhance Your Taste Buds Through Learning, Style in a glass with tags , , , , , , , , on 07/09/2013 by beerbygarth

“Best Beers for Women to Order”

This video was posted on www.womensforum.com, and was brought to my attention via a forum post on beeradvocate.com written by member Higy.  The video, both in subject and delivery, annoyed me to the point that I won’t even touch upon the fact that I am citing a source named Higy.  Jesus, if that doesn’t wreak of an inside-joke frat nickname.  Anyway, I’m getting distracted…on to the video dissection!

“I’m gravitating towards this pretty, red one…”
First off, the premise of your video is a female consumer walking into a new beer bar, picking up a beer menu, and not knowing what to order.  I have lots of issues with this in so many different ways, but let’s make the easy tackles, because I tend to be on the lazy side (as most of you can likely discern from my frequency of posts here).  One, the beer menus in beer bars do not have pictures, so the fact that you are “gravitating towards” the lambic does nothing towards helping those venturing into uncharted territories.  Also, beer bars, in general, do not have glassware full of all of their beer offerings like a dessert plate at the Olive Garden that gets wheeled around to choose from.  Now, I have been around some folks that will look around an establishment and find something that looks “yummy”, at which point they will order that, but drinks aren’t always good to judge by looks alone.  My money would be on this particular person being a martini/cosmo type person, which would lead to her being drawn to the raspberry lambic.  Am I assuming and/or stereotyping?  Of course I am…that’s the basis for the article I’m bitching about, so turnabout is the most fair play I can think of.

“I can even smell the raspberries…”
No shit.  You can smell them so much that it makes your eyes cross, eh?  Please.  I pity the significant other that has to endure your ‘faking’ through other aspects in life.  The best explanation for the raspberry smell jumping out at you may be attributed to suggestion.  Now, don’t get me wrong, lambics can be ungodly fragrant, almost to the point of sugary sweetness, but on the flipside, there is a reason judges at beer competitions drink from unlabeled vessels.  The power of suggestion is a bitch.  If I say raspberries fifteen times while describing a beer to you, there is a hell of a chance that any fruit characteristics will seem like raspberry to you.  Of course, that thing looked like a liquid ruby, and chances are there was an “odeur de framboise” spreading out from that glass like a creepy mist in a Stephen King story.

“Women tend to gravitate towards the sweeter beers…”
So do diabetics, dick.  I know that my circle is nowhere near large enough to make generalizations, however I am married to someone who prefers Russian Imperial Stouts to anything, although retains the ability to appreciate the DIPAs, IPAs, and other monsters that I sometimes drink.  She does draw the line at Sours and Farmhouse styles, though.  And in that vein, I have a female friend who has developed a penchant for Sours, Farmhouse, and funky Belgian brews.  To spread this anecdotal cross-section a bit further, I’ve volunteered two years in a row at the American Craft Beer Festival in Boston, hosted by BeerAdvocate and Harpoon Brewery, and I can tell you that all of the females do not ‘gravitate’ towards the lambics or all-pale brews, and there aren’t any ciders at the fest.  More on the cider part in a bit, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

“Lambics could also be very high, somewhere between 6 and 10%…”
Having moved on to the Belgian beer, our fearless leader in this journey of misleading stereotypes and gross generalizations reports on certain ranges of the styles of beer.  Belgians tend to have more fermentable sugar, leading to higher ABVs.  Okay, true in some instances, but there are Belgian styles coming out as sessionable ales, meaning ABVs are less than 5%. On the flipside, I have seen Quads as high as 25% ABV (although rare, but there are a couple out there).  Lambics, on the other hand, are more often lower in ABV, with some as low as 2%.  Bottom line, don’t start quoting numbers because styles are not solely based on their alcohol content.  Sessionability is an adjective.

“…and now we have ciders…”
And just when I started to worry this post was getting long-winded, we fall upon something that is not, in fact, a beer.  The title of the video is “Best Beers for Women to Order,” and the key word there is BEER.  This is along the lines of saying “…and next on the list of best cars for teens is a motorcycle…” Not going to fly.  Apples and oranges, my friend (not cider apples, either, and we’ll get to those damn oranges).

“…what about when I see the oranges…”
And now you have completely lost me.  There is a debate ongoing in the beer community regarding garnish with beer.  Some feel that the finished product (beer) should be consumed as-is, sans orange wedge/cinnamon-sugar rim/etc.  Others state that some brewers intend for the garnish to be part of the beer drinking experience.  I tend to side with the former…keep the fruit/sugar/shit out of my beer.

“…what, maybe, I can order…”
The joy of this country is that you can order whatever you want, darlin’.  Just because someone tells you “this is what most women order” doesn’t mean you have to do the same, nor does it mean that he/she is correct in that statement.  Make your own choice, build your own palate, and buck the stereotypes.

This blog entry was not an excuse to post pics of women drinking beer (although it appears to have turned into that rather hastily). It was written in defense of all of those I know whom have taken the time and effort to develop their tastes in craft beer.  Also, I wanted to let those new to the craft world know that any path they choose may be correct. People should choose their own way, sometimes with the aide of others, but never to be forced into a pigeon-holed box of norms.  Bottom line, to those new and old in the world of craft beer, drink educated my friends.

History of #Beer, Vol I

Posted in Beer Reviews, Enhance Your Taste Buds Through Learning with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 05/16/2013 by beerbygarth

There is a lot of back story to the nectar that is beer.  More and more information is being discovered all the time, pushing the limits of what we think we know in terms of styles, flavors, brewing processes, availability, and even when beer was being made.  There are a lot of hands working diligently to discover and learn as much as they can from the sometimes convoluted and sometimes mysterious histories that make up the world of beer.  Many have seen the season of Brew Masters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brew_Masters) put out by the Discovery Channel, which put a large spotlight on beer and its origins.  Also, the writings of many beer historians provide insight into old recipes, old brewing log books, etc, etc.  I personally enjoy reading Ron Pattinson, both on his blog (http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/) and his articles in BeerAdvocate magazine (www.beeradvocate.com), and there are many others out there putting out a lot of interesting work.  As the craft beer scene in the United States balloons to astronomical numbers, both in brewers and breweries, it is sometimes fun and educational to cast an eye back on where this entire beer journey really started from.

One of the truly interactive and fun ways to participate in a self-driven study in beer history is being provided currently by Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project (http://prettybeer.com/wp/).  Pretty Things has a series (http://www.oldbeers.com/) known as “Once Upon A Time,” in which they brew beers from historical records/documents/recipes, true to form, to open up a window into the past (of beer).  As they put it: “We do not interpret or attempt to commercialize these beers in any manner.  In fact you have our pledge that if history presents us with a less-than-desirable beer, you will taste this beer as it was. That’s our unique commitment to you.”  It’s like going back to the good old days without the shitty Delorean ride.

For today’s history lesson, I’ll talk about three particular brews from the “Once Upon A Time” series, and I’ll relay the brewer’s descriptions of the beers, as well as my experiences with each brew, all in chronological order of original brew date, as any self-respecting geek would do.

December 6th, 1855 East India Porter, 6.0% ABV

From the brewers:
“The recipe that we’re using dates back to a brewsheet from Barclay Perkins Brewery in London, from December 6th, 1855. As with our other historical beers, the EIP was brewed in a vast batch-size that we cannot hope to recreate. The “Porter tuns” were apparently over 3400 barrels in size (that’s bigger than any modern American brewhouse). So, we’re brewing at 1/34th that size, but so much else is the same.  We visited our favorite maltster, Thomas Fawcett & Sons in Yorkshire a few months before we brewed this. The Fawcett maltings has been around since the 1780s, this is pretty authentic stuff.  So we employed their lovely grain for this beer. Their brown malt is sublime; the amber was, and to some degree still is a mystery. It’s a lightly roasted malt and our guess was that it would accentuate the dryness of the beer. But why did they use it back then?  The hops are a different story altogether: 4.47 lbs hops per barrel (Kent Goldings & Spalt).  4.5 pounds per barrel! That’s a double IPA, and as many hops as the 1832 10.5% Mild had! It’s more than some of the hoppiest MODERN IPAs out there… Crazy!  So: our Once Upon a Time 1855 EIP is dry, malty beer with a substantial pipe-tobacco bitterness, dark garnet colour and 6% abv.”

From yours truly:
Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a dark, hazy, chestnut highlighted brown-to-black coloring with a thin, frothy, foamy, off-white head. Great bright ring on the surface of this beer the whole time you are drinking.  Aromas are heavy of roasted coffee, both bitter and a bit smoky. Flavors are very heavily roasted, with a solid profile of coffee, both bitter and rich. Very heavy coffee profile throughout, as I’m sure was being relayed already. The aftertaste is bitter and roasted, with a hint of bittersweet chocolate notes. Dry, bitter, mid-lingering finish. Solid brew, and fun to see what brews used to be like back in the day, as they say.  Coffee lovers dream!

Once Upon A Time 1879 East India Pale Ale

From Pretty Things:
“We couldn’t help but want to brew a proper period version of the beer that started the craft beer movement here in the US and Ron came up with a brewsheet that launched many OUAT firsts.  Not only does this one use English hops as would be expected, but also hops from Germany (including hops from Alsace that was only recently ceded to Germany from France) and California.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  We don’t even grow hops in California these days so it was surprise to see a Yorkshire brewery using them in the 19th century.  First ever use of American hops in a OUAT beer.  This is also our first non-London historical recreation and we’re really pleased that it lands us in Leeds, England – home of Martha and where I spent several happy years working at Daleside Brewery in Harrogate. That’s one first.  Another first with this beer is that it’s from a brick and mortar brewery that only recently closed.  In fact I went to a meeting there in 2006 and had a great tour of their brand new packaging hall.  Oh well, sometimes history is even closer than we would have liked.  That said, I could only dream to have visited at Trumans, Whitbread or Barclay Perkins!”

From this intermittently dedicated author (who is working on consistency a little more now):
Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a hazy, golden-copper coloring with a frothy, filmy, bright white head that eventually settles into a filmy coating. Nose of biscuits in the backbone, with a toffee sweetness, a touch of grapefruit tart, and a hint of hops bitter. The nose is very sweet, but very well blended and balanced. Flavors are balanced, too, but lend more to the bitter side. Initially toasty, with a lemon and grapefruit citrus blend that overcomes the palate rapidly, with a bitter and peppery hops profile following shortly behind. The bitterness is bold, and helps to clean the palate. The aftertaste is a bit on the bitter side, with the citrus tart still present, but slightly overpowered. The original biscuit backbone is a little lost, leading to a slightly astringent finish. Mid-bodied, which works to support the flavors, but the bitterness may “do in” some drinkers who are not fans of the hops, or accustomed to more bold flavorings. Interesting and very flavorful brew, nonetheless. I really like this series so far, it’s been fun getting to know these brews.

Once Upon A Time 1939 No. 1 Ale

From the horse’s mouth:
“This beer was originally brewed November 15th, 1939.  On that very day Franklin Delano Roosevelt  was laying the cornerstone to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.. Across the Atlantic a shift brewer in Edinburgh, Scotland was making one of the strongest beers his brewery had in its repetoire and it was called “No. 1.”  This dark, malty and sweet beer epitomizes Scottish beer of the day…and actually it was a peculiar recipe!  Not only does this recipe contain lactose sugar and require us to colour the beer mostly with caramel, but it also demands a “cereal mash”.  This one really is a beer from a comparatively modern industrial brewery.  So far in our list of historical beers we have beers reproduced from the years 1832, 1839, 1855, 1879, 1901 & 1945. Not one of them showed this type of complexity in the brewhouse. So it was a great joy and challenge to be able to tackle this beer.”

From a horse’s ass:
Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a slightly hazed, dark, amber highlighted brown colored ale with a sparse, very thin surface coat of white head. Aromas of darkly sweet caramel and a hint of nut, with a sugary highlight that gives it richness instead of cloying. Flavors are just as rich as you would expect from the nose, with a deep, smooth ribbon of dark caramel providing a backbone that is highlighted by a touch of smoke and an earthy character that provides both depth and balance to the brew. Very rich, but surprisingly drinkable. There are subtle notes of alcohol throughout, but never anything that builds or overpowers. Smooth, full body that is lightened slightly by the carbonation. Roasty and rich aftertaste, with a sugary kiss, leading to a slick, slightly lingering finish. Really strong representation of the style, and possibly a good bar to use when tasting other Scottish Ales.  This was a really tasty beer!

These three brews are a start into this area of the beer world that I want to explore more, and drag all of you with me, kicking and screaming if I must.  In all honesty, there are some really great, unique beers being created/recreated due to this look back on history.  In this particular instance, we have Pretty Things, which is most readily available in New England…so, for those outside of that area, I guess either plan a trip or find a beer pen pal.  In all honesty, it’s worth the effort.  In future history lessons I will tackle the other offerings in the “Once Upon A Time” line, as well as some of the historical styles from Dogfish Head and other breweries.  It’s an interesting way to delve deeper into the awesomeness that is craft beer.  So brush off those history corners of your brain, and drink educated my friends!

#Beer list…let’s take a (really long) road trip!

Posted in Geography with tags , , , on 04/11/2013 by beerbygarth

http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/media/press-releases/show?title=brewers-association-releases-top-50-breweries-of-2012 The Brewers Association released its annual list of top craft breweries based on sales for the past year.  Everyone loves a good list, and everyone (I hope) loves searching out new beers to try, so how much more awesome could it get to combine the two??  I’ll tell you: it couldn’t possibly get any awesomer!!!

Even if you don’t fancy driving all over creation to visit each of the breweries (I can’t even fathom not wanting to, but to each their own), there will likely have to be some travel involved to get your hands on products from each of these breweries, due to distribution areas and what not.  So, that being said, let’s take a look at this little list, shall we?

1 Boston Beer Co.-they make Sam Adams…they sell nationwide.  This is one of the easier check-offs.  Readily available, quality brews, and responsible for bringing many craft beer drinkers over to the good side.

2 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.-another agent of craft beer recruitment, Sierra Nevada was one of the first in the biz.  With an East Coast brewery in the very near future, their offerings will be even easier to get your hands on.

3 New Belgium Brewing Co.- Fat Tire was one of the first craft brews I ever had, not even knowing what craft beer really was.  Ranger IPA is fantastic, as well.  New Belgium also planning an East Coast set-up soon.

4 The Gambrinus Co.-owner and brewer of Shiner Beers, which are brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Gambrinus also owns the BridgePort Brewery in Portland, Oregon, the Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, California and the Pete’s Brewing Company.  I’ve had my fair share of Shiner brews, as well as Bridgeport beers while living in Portland.  I think everyone has had Pete’s Wicked something at this point.

5 Deschutes Brewery-having lived in Portland for a time, I more than immersed myself in what Deschutes has to offer.  The result?  I miss it terribly.  Abyss is amazing, and their flagships are tremendous.  Bill Murray commonly sings the praises of Mirror Pond, and if you can’t trust Mr. Bill Murray, who can you trust?

6 Lagunitas Brewing Co.-some of my favorite beers, being the hop head that I am.  Hop Stoopid, Lagunitas Sucks, Brown Shugga, etc, etc…another brewery looking to spread east shortly.

7 Bell’s Brewery, Inc.-always finding itself on “Best Beer” lists, commonly with multiple representations.  Two Hearted is an all-time favorite of this author.

8 Matt Brewing Co.-having family in New York, I am frequently enjoying the Saranac offerings.  I have been pleased to see a more expansive number of styles coming from Saranac/Matt.

9 Harpoon Brewery-another Boston brewery, their IPA came on the scene 20 years ago, and they have been going and growing ever since.  A new beer hall recently opened in Boston, making visits even more tempting to all.  The UFO series is very popular, as well as their Leviathan line and Barrel Series.

10 Stone Brewing Co.- amazing West Coast brewery with a surprisingly far-reaching distribution.  That’s a good thing, because Ruination is my all-time favorite beer.  Their Enjoy By IPA has brought waves of anticipation throughout the craft beer scene, and they continue to innovate.

11 Brooklyn Brewery- currently celebrating their 25th anniversary, and I know this because I have a bottle of their 25th Anniversary Ale in my beer fridge right now…in fact, I may go crack that while I finish typing this.  Brooklyn cranks out great beers from a ton of styles, from lagers to stouts.

12 Boulevard Brewing Co.-I’ve only had three of their beers, but each was very different from the others, and all three were damn good.  Chocolate Ale, which is not a Porter or Stout that you would normally expect to see, but is a Strong Ale; Dark Truth Stout, which is rich, dark, and delicious; and Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, a funky, tasty brew that hits all the marks for the Farmhouse/Saison style.

13 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery-”off-centered ales” is the DFH specialty, and owner Sam may be one of the more recognizable people in the craft beer world.  Their IPAs and World Wide Stout rank as some of my favorite beers out there, and the uniqueness of their new products continually coming out challenge the beer drinker’s palate, as well as introduce MANY to ingredients never seen in beers before.

14 Abita Brewing Co.-had for the first time going through NOLA on a cross-country trip.  Fell in love with TurboDog, while being also impressed with the bevy of drinkable offerings from other styles, including Purple Haze, Jockamo IPA, and AndyGator.  Now, I’m hard pressed to celebrate Fat Tuesday without stocking the fridge straight from the bayou.

15 Shipyard Brewing Co.-I’m from Maine, I could talk about Shipyard until I’m blue in the face.  Shipyard now brews all the Sea Dog beers, so that would keep me going even longer.  Fan favorites are Sea Dog’s Blue Paw and Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead.  Also worth searching out are the Pugsley Series, specifically Imperial Porter, Smashed Pumpkin, and Smashed Blueberry.

16 Alaskan Brewing Co.-the wife and I lived in Alaska for 3 months, and the longer time goes by the more I crave the offerings from Alaskan.  You can’t be there and not have their Amber, and the Smoked Porter they put out every year is legendary.  They are another brewery that has really been spreading out their line-up with new styles and year round offerings.

17 New Glarus Brewing Co.-amazingly still missing this fine brewery…it has been on my radar for some time, and I need to delve a little deeper into their distribution regions to figure out where I can pick some up.  I’m coming for ya NGB, I’m coming for ya…

18 Long Trail Brewing Co.-”Take A Hike!”  One of the better known and more widespread offerings from Vermont.  Actually went to a Long Trail tasting where pint glasses were handed out with tree seedlings inside…pretty cool.  Long Trail does a good job of switching up their sampler packs with each season, so it’s possible to get to try a lot of what they have to offer.  Very solid Pale Ale, and their Brewmaster Series is damn strong.

19 Great Lakes Brewing Co.-Edmund Fitzgerald.  Nuff said.

20 Firestone Walker Brewing Co.-California brewery known best for their Union Jack IPA, which is delicious.  Also, their Reserve Series is borderline amazing, some of my personal favorites being the Porter and Wookey Jack.  Also, I finally got my hands on some Sucaba this very evening, which I am very much looking forward to.  I’ll keep you posted…

21 Anchor Brewing Co.- Originators of the Steam Beer, a style known from other breweries as California Common due to Anchor having exclusive rights to the term “Steam Beer.”  Anchor Steam is a great beer, and they put out an annual brew around Christmas time called Our Special Ale, which changes its recipe each year.

22 Rogue Ales-more beer styles and offerings than I have ever seen from one brewery!  In the Oregon area, it’s impossible not to know Rogue.  Most know Dead Guy, but the favorites around this house are the Double Chocolate Stout, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, and Chipotle Ale.  Rogue also has their own farms (http://roguefarmsblog.wordpress.com/category/crops/) where crops are produced for their beers and other projects.

23 Summit Brewing Co.-from the Land of 10,000 Lakes…haven’t had any yet, so it appears I need to find a pen pal in Minnesota…

t. 24 Full Sail Brewing Co.-some of my favorite session beers, and oddly enough, they are called Session.  Available in 3 styles, Red, Black, and Fest.  Great brews.

t. 24 SweetWater Brewing Co.-I’ve only had the 420 Extra Pale Ale, but it was pretty good.  I’m looking forward to getting some more of their brews, because any brewery that can land it’s products on an episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ is right up my alley.

26 Victory Brewing Co.-love the Storm King and Hop Wallop.  A lot of very hoppy, yet very unique brews.  Also, the Dark Intrigue, which is their Russian Imperial Stout, is wicked good.  I have a bottle aging, so it will be interesting to see how patient I can be before tearing into it.

27 Oskar Blues Brewery-behold the power of the can!  Dale’s Pale, Deviant, and Ten Fidy are all delicious…really can’t go wrong with anything they make.  Pretty solid distribution area, too, so most can get their hands on the flagship brews.

28 Cold Spring Brewing Co./Third Street Brewhouse- honestly hadn’t heard of this one until this list…apparently Minnesota is calling my name.

29 Flying Dog Brewery-strong beers adorned by label art inspired by Hunter S Thompson.  Gonzo and Pearl Necklace are the two I recommend keeping an eye out for, but any of the dog-themed brews are tasty, too.

30 Founders Brewing Co.- Founders makes BIG beers.  I have yet to try one of their brews that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed.  Backwoods Bastard, Breakfast Stout, Double Trouble…I could go right down their entire list of beers.  Currently in a raffle for a shot at Doom and KBS…keep your fingers crossed for me.

31 Ninkasi Brewing Co.-Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian matron goddess of beer, and also a brewery in Eugene, OR.  Sadly, I’ve only had Oatis, their Oatmeal Stout, but it was delicious.  Always keeping an eye open for more from them.

32 CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc.-operates 14 different chains/brands of brewery/restaurants, including Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, and Old Chicago.  I have visited each of these establishments separately, and the beers are decent.  These types of places are safe bets for traveling folk trying to avoid the shitty beer offerings common to a Chili’s/Applebee’s/Friday’s, etc.

33 Odell Brewing Co.-another brewery that frequents most “Top Beer” lists…and missing this brewery has actually been bugging me for quite some time.  High on my list…

34 Bear Republic Brewing Co.-write this down: Café Racer 15, Hop Rod Rye, Racer 5, and Red Rocket.  Now, go find them…you won’t be disappointed!

35 Stevens Point Brewery-I’ve only had a couple from here (Whole Hog and Nude Beach), but they were good.  A lot of good things coming from this part of the country, which is steeped in American brewing history.

36 Blue Point Brewing Co.-good things can come from Long Island (sorry, that’s my hockey fan side coming through).  Had the pleasure of seeing these folks at lots of festivals and events…I personally recommend the Toxic Sludge and Hoptical Illusion.

37 Southern Tier Brewing Co.-another solid brewery out of New York.  A lot of their regular offerings are very tasty, but it’s their bombers that I have been gravitating towards recently, providing some more heavy and rich offerings, such as Choklat, Crème Brulee, and Iniquity.

38 Lost Coast Brewery and Café- Eureka!  Okay, bad joke…introduced to Lost Coast while living in California, this one is a little tougher to find for those on the East Coast.  Pretty decent lineup, and their Imperial offerings tend to get more of the focus.

39 Karl Strauss Brewing Co.-another restaurant/brewery, this one found around the San Diego metro.  Very solid brews, and very tasty beer-infused menus.  Parrot in a Palm Tree comes out around the holidays, and it is worth timing a visit around its release.

40 BJ’s Chicago Pizza & Brewery-another chain style brewery/restaurant establishment.  When we first moved to San Mateo, CA, we stayed in a hotel while searching out housing, and there was a BJ’s across the street.  Needless to say, we hit that a few times.  Same as the other places like it, decent food and tasty brews that beat the normal options.

41 Breckenridge Brewery-Colorado representing once again.  Most people really enjoy the Vanilla Porter, and they make some tasty IPAs, too.

42 North Coast Brewing Co.-Old Rasputin…my wife’s favorite beer.  Old Rasputin is also available annually in a barrel-aged offering that is very tasty.  Very solid IPA offerings that we have become accustomed to from Cali breweries.

43 Left Hand Brewing Co.-very large distribution area for this Rocky Mountain brewery.  Get your hands on some Milk Stout and Sawtooth.

44 St. Louis Brewery, Inc./Schlafly Beers-haven’t had this one yet, but this is likely the first to come off of my current ‘to-do’ list…I am working out a trade with a friend in the Lou, so hopefully some of these beauties will be coming my way soon…

45 Saint Arnold Brewing Co.-Texas’ oldest craft brewery, located in Houston.  Who do I know in Texas….hmmmmmmm……

46 Ballast Point Brewing Co.-another out of the San Diego area, they make a couple that are near and dear to this beer drinker’s heart (one more rhyming word in that sentence and I was going to jump off the nearest bridge).  Specifically, Sculpin IPA and Sea Monster Imperial Stout are worth picking up.  They also operate a distillery, making this a must-stop on your trip to San Diego.

47 Big Sky Brewing Co.-first ran into this brewery while driving through Yellowstone…my eye was caught by a big cold bottle of Moose Drool.  It was a refreshing, tasty brew, and sadly the only one I’ve had from Big Sky.

48 Allagash Brewing Co.-bring on the funk!  Allagash brings you beers with a heavy Belgian influence, including an array of Lambics and Wilds.  A favorite gem nestled in the beer city that Portland has quickly become.  My personal faves are Hugh Malone, Black, and Fluxus.

49 Uinta Brewing Co.-prior to this week, Uinta was a brewery I commonly bought when visiting beer shops in Massachusetts.  As of this week, Uinta distributes to New Hampshire.  Very excited.  Baba and Dubhe are strong, tasty brews, and the Crooked Line series gives some more unique styles a spin.  Uinta is also rolling out a canning line now, which continues to grow in popularity in the craft beer community.

50 Tröegs Brewing Co.-very easy to find on the East Coast….hit or miss on the West Coast.  Nugget Nectar is a beast, and the Hopback Amber is not far behind.  Located in Hershey, PA, drop the family off at the chocolate house and go get some beer!

Yet again, another reason to get out there and see the country while drinking some damn tasty brews!  Travel safe and drink educated, my friends!

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